For a land where pork is a dietary mainstay, Germans are showing remarkable compassion for wild swine:
Gabriele Klose simply couldn't let the hunter kill the wild boar running around her flower store. Not after it looked up at her with big, innocent eyes.
The hairy beast was one of thousands of wild boars that have discovered the charms of urban living in Germany's leafy capital city. When the creature trotted out of rush-hour traffic one morning last month to root around the flower store, Ms. Klose's first thought was: "That is one ugly dog."
After a second glance, Ms. Klose phoned the police for safety -- and a local tabloid for publicity. The police called in Matthias Eggert, one of a crack band of hunters with license to kill hogs in urban areas. But Mr. Eggert's plan to dispatch the boar appalled Ms. Klose. The hunter says the tabloid reporter brandished a camera and warned him he'd have the whole of Berlin on his case if he pulled the trigger. Mr. Eggert sensed a PR debacle, so he phoned around until he found an animal sanctuary 40 miles from Berlin that granted the boar asylum and named the swine "Amanda."
This is the first I've heard of boars running amock in Berlin, despite having lived a two-hour train ride away and visiting a couple times. Frankly, the whole thing is just bizarre to me.
According to the article, the boars are normally docile, but they dig up gardens and lawns and can turn violent when cornered, occasionally goring to death dogs and even a person or two. The city has appointed special hunters to limit the population, but Germans in their typical pacifist fashion will often accost anyone trying to shoot these majestic creatures.
Atypically, some Germans are failing to live up to Prussian ideals by subverting the law and feeding the boars. I love this bit:
Mr. Gericke says he has been feeding boars here every night for 12 years, making him the doyen of Berlin's boar-loving underground. Every two weeks he spends €15, or about $20, of his jobless benefits on a 110-pound sack of corn. "Feeding them corn diversifies their diet," he says.
Berlin's forestry officials say they're filing charges against Mr. Gericke that could lead to a hefty fine. Mr. Gericke says that won't stop him, because he can't pay anyway. "Even if they send me to prison instead, I won't stop."
Back of the envelope calculations suggest this man has spent around €4,000 feeding wild pigs in the past dozen years--how much of that came from jobless benefits is anyone's guess. But good luck fining him, he's poor!